memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for December 26, 2011

The man who kills goldfish with his thoughts

There’s really much to write about this subject except that my physiotherapist has developed an idée fixe over the years that whenever I think about any goldfish, it dies.

I think that she is making a rather drastic confusion between cause and effect.

I dearly wish I had that mental power – there would no flies on me anymore. I wouldn’t restrict my zapping powers to mere goldfish; I would have other fish to fry. I would extend it other creatures; I would attend a Harry Potter-style academy and work my way up the food chain. I would achieve a BA (Black Arts) then an MBA (Master of the Black Arts) and finally a PhD (What’s it All About, Alfie?)

I would become a Prince of Darkness.

I would then change my identity and appearance, but I wouldn’t go for the George Clooney/Brad Pitt look, rather I’d choose that guy in Patrick Susskind’s novel Perfume (must reading, by the way) you know, the pervy little alchemist who could become invisible at will. (Oh, and while you’re at it, lop off a couple of decades from my age, will ya?)

Then I would sally forth and hire myself out to all the Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chancellors, Dictators, Czars, Sheiks, Kings, Absolute Monarchs, Autocrats and Nutters with cash to spare.

I would become all the rich and powerful megalomaniacs of the world’s worst enemies’ nightmare. I would become a millionaire, a billionaire, a trillionaire.

I would be taken up to a high place and shown all the Aston-Martins, Rolex waches, private yachts, trophy wives, (trophy mistresses), Armani suits, i-pads, i-phones, i-gots, i-think therefore i-am hand-me-down religions of the World and ask Him:

–          OK, now what’s the deal?

But all this is based on the hypothesis that I am the man who kills goldfish with his thoughts.

I’m not.

But I must confess to thinking of her wretched fish some years ago – long enough to write this little sketch.

Scene – A tank in the kitchen of Angela’s house.

1# goldfish – Ooh look! There’s Angela.

2# goldfish – Ooh look! She’s having her breakfast.

3# goldfish – Ooh look! Here Angela’s mum to say hurry up or you’ll be late for work!

Later, about mid-morning – and here comes the sad part – the fish, perhaps unable to bear the excitement of life in Angela’s kitchen or simply feeling unequal to the struggle for existence, gently and gracefully expire.

When Angela’s mum comes back from the shops she notices that the fish have died. Oh dear, she thinks, Angela will be a bit upset – I know, I’ll break it to her gently.

Later Angela comes home from work. Her mum says:

–              Hello dear, how was your day?

–              Not bad.

–              Listen, I’m afraid I’ve got a bit of bad news.

–              What?

–              Well, let’s put it this way, you don’t have to bother to feed the goldfish this evening.

–              Why not? Has Dad been feeding them again?

–              No, it’s because they’re dead.

Angela feels annoyed. Those damned fish keep on dying on me, she thinks. I know I’ll go this Saturday to the pet-shop to make a complaint.

Saturday, at the pet shop:

–              Good morning Madam, what can I do for you? Some piranha fish… a nice little shark… perhaps an albatross….?

–              I’ve come to make a complaint. Those goldfish that you sold me last weekend have already died!

–              No they’re not dead, they’re only sleeping.

–              Sleeping! They have not moved for days!

–              Yes these Oriental fish like to hibernate sometimes…

–              Look, they are dead! They’ve gone to that great fish-tank in the sky! They have shuffled off their mortal coil! They have kicked the bucket! They have cashed in their chips! They are deceased…. They are ex-fish… they are DEAD!

–              Well if you’re sure… would you like three more?

Angela goes next door to the café and has a soothing cup of coffee to calm down


(Those who can, do; those who can’t, blog)

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